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Oka Vanga - Dance of the Copper Trail (Crazy Bird Records)
It's quite refreshing to hear songs treated to such sumptuous arrangements as those provided by husband and wife team Angela Meyer and William Cox, otherwise known as Oka Vanga, on this the duo's second album following the success of their award-winning 2014 debut instrumental release PILGRIM. Joining continents, the Cape Town-born singer, mandolin, ukulele and guitar player Angie and London-based singer guitarist Will are joined by musician friends Patsy Reid on fiddle, Oliver Copeland on double bass and Mark Tucker on percussion, who together create a gentle and effectively soothing acoustic sound throughout. The eleven songs and tunes on DANCE OF THE COPPER TRAIL, clearly mark the duo's rightful place on the contemporary folk scene, with a selection of both self-penned and traditional songs, including a sublime reading of She Moved Through the Fair, a showcase for Angie's remarkable - and distinctively her own - voice. Once Angie's voice seeps into your psyche, you will scratch your head in confusion and no doubt question why the duo's previous album was instrumental only. If there's some inherent magic to be found in the fabric of the opening song, The Wicken Tree, then that magic is echoed in Angie's earthy, spell-binding and utterly convincing voice. The same goes for Ashes to the Wind and The Devil' Tide, both of which showcase the duo's flair for empathetic musical interaction, whilst the lilting Capercaillie provides the album with one of its most uplifting moments, helped in no small part by Patsy Reid's skittering fiddle performance. This really is a superb album and one which will hang around on the player long after the plaudits have been bestowed.